Universal map of China

Author: Chen, Jungmen
Date: 1850
Location: China, World

Dimensions: 133.0 x 72.0 cm.
Scale: Scale not given
Call Number: G7820 1850 .C4


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A Chinese view of the world is provided by this unusual woodcut and hand-colored map. The primary emphasis is China, but Europe and the British Isles are represented as a very thin sliver of uncolored land and islands in the upper left corner. The two vignettes, depict the world in the European context of two hemispheres: to the left are Eurasia and Africa, and to the right, Asia, Antarctica, and the Americas. The seventeen provinces of China dominate the main section of the map. They are outlined and colored, with cities, towns, and villages indicated by woodcut stamps of their names. Rivers, mountains, the Great Wall of China and the Gobi Dessert are also depicted using simple pictorial symbols. A late 19th-century commentator has translated into English several of the Chinese labels. As is typical for world maps from non-European cultures, distant lands are depicted as mysterious and exotic. For example, a note on Brazil identifies it as the "land of the cannibals." The map includes several clues as to its origin. In the upper left vignette, China is identified as the "Qing Empire," implying that the map dates from before the fall of the Ching dynasty and the Chinese Empire in 1911. In addition, a late 19th-century handwritten note in the lower right margin refers to a rebellion in "Yung Ngan," almost certainly the Muslim Rebellion that took place in the province of Yunnan between 1855 and 1873. The text block at the upper left includes a reference to one "Jungmen Chen," the cartographer, while in the central upper text block, the patron who commissioned the map is identified as "Junliang Ma, from the Zhejiang province." Circa 1850.

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